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Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Let's keep on jumping - Cootie Williams, Eddie Cleanhead' Vinson, Butch Ballard

Cootie Williams and his Orchestra filmed in New York, mid June, 1943. From the Columbia Pictures film "Film Vodvil (series 1, release no. 2), According to Mark Cantor (via Tom Lord) the on-screen personnel is also the personnel to be heard on the soundtrack: Cootie Williams, Louis Bacon, Ermit V. Perry, Frank "Fat Man" Humphries (tp) Ed Burke, Bob Horton (tb) prob. Jonas Walker (tb) Charles Holmes (as) Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson (as,vcl) Sam "The Man" Taylor, Lee Pope (ts) Greely Walton (bar) Fletcher Smith (p) Norman Keenan (b) George "Butch" Ballard (d) Laurel Watson (vcl) Douglas Brothers (tap dancing-1) Lindy Hoppers (dancing-2) [ Leon James (dancing-2) & Dottie Mae Johnson (dancing-2) , Russell Williams (dancing-2) & Connie Hill (dancing-2) ] • Let's keep on jumping/Get hep • unidentified tune • Giddap mule • Let's keep on jumping George Edward "Butch" Ballard (December 26, 1918 – October 1, 2011) was an American jazz drummer who during his long career played with musicians such as Louis Armstrong, Count Basie and Duke Ellington. Ballard was born in Camden, New Jersey and grew up in Frankford, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. As a child he followed American Legion parades near his home, focusing particularly on the drummer. When he was about 10 years old, Ballard's father bought him a set of drums from a pawnbroker and he began to take lessons for 75 cents each. He got the nickname "Butch" after Machine Gun Butch, a character in the 1930 film The Big House. He attended Northeast High School in Philadelphia. When he was 21, he married Jessie, for whom he bought a house in Philadelphia in 1950 At around 16 years old, Ballard listened to Herb Thornton's band at the Boys Club in Philadelphia. They let him play with them, and he was invited to join a band by a man who heard him. For the following few months, he carried his drums across Philadelphia to rehearse. In 1938, Ballard started playing with Louis Armstrong's band The Dukes. He performed with them for a few years. In 1941 he began playing with the Cootie Williams Orchestra, performing with Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Dinah Washington and Pearl Bailey. During World War II, Ballard joined the United States Navy and served in the 29th Special Construction Battalion in Guam and the South Pacific. While serving, he played in the military band. After the war, he returned to Philadelphia and then went to New York, working with musicians including Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis, Eddie Vinson, Arnett Cobb and Clark Terry. He met and became friends with drummer Shadow Wilson who played with the Count Basie Orchestra. In the late 1940s, Wilson left Basie's orchestra to join Woody Herman's band and Basie invited Ballard to California replace him. In 1950, Ballard received a telephone call from Duke Ellington who had heard of Ballard from his son Mercer. Ellington invited him to join his band on a European tour and Ballard sailed to France. Regular Ellington drummer Sonny Greer was proving to be increasingly unreliable due to his drinking, and Ellington hired Ballard as a backup. He played with musicians including Harry Carney, Paul Gonsalves, Jimmy Hamilton, Billy Strayhorn, Kay Davis and Chubby Kemp and Wendell Marshall. After the tour, Ellington asked him to permanently replace Greer, but Ballard declined, not wanting to change his drumming method to suit Ellington. Ellington, wanting a drummer who used double bass drums, hired Louie Bellson instead. Ballard continued to play with Ellington in 1952–1953 and made recordings with him, such as "Satin Doll". In the 1960s, Ballard began leading his own band in Philadelphia. Ballard played with many musicians during his career, including John Coltrane, Fats Waller, Freddie Green, Harry "Sweets" Edison, Clark Terry, Emmett "Rev" Berry, Bardu Ali, Willie Cook, Cat Anderson, Arnett Cobb, Lucky Millinder, Bootsie Barnes, Bob Dorsey, Eddy Vincent and Mercer Ellington. Ballard became a music teacher in the mid-1980s and saw about 12 students a week. In his later years he also played with the Philadelphia Legends of Jazz Orchestra. If you support live Blues acts, up and coming Blues talents and want to learn more about Blues news and Fathers of the Blues, ”LIKE” ---Bman’s Blues Report--- Facebook Page! I’m looking for great talent and trying to grow the audience for your favorite band!

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